Amrit Ahluwalia, the editor of The Evolllution, was good enough to invite me to write an article based on the last two chapters of my recently published book, Online Education Policy and Practice: The Past, Present, and Future of the Digital University (Taylor & Francis/Routledge). The article, entitled The Future of Online Education: Will Our Courses Foreshadow Our Ends? speculates on the future of our colleges and universities as online technology progresses and moves forward.
I am optimistic about the near future for higher education and online education. Faculty will continue to develop greater facility with instructional technology and will come to integrate it seamlessly into their academic programs. American higher education is moving to a model where almost every course offered will have an online component. This is desirable during a time when enrollments will rise. Because of state funding constraints, there will likely be fewer full-time, tenure-track faculty as a percentage of the total faculty and as contract faculty, adjuncts, and tutors take on more of the teaching load. Instructional approaches such as learning analytics, adaptive learning, competency-based instruction, interactive media, and mobile technology will mature in the 2020s.
In the 2030s and beyond, it is likely that major new technology breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, super cloud computing, and brain-machine interfaces will emerge that will change many aspects of human endeavor including education. Nanotechnology will give way to quantum computing which will completely redefine the speed and capacities of present day computers. We will look back twenty years from now and think how quaint our iphones were.
The article ends with a reference to Charles Dickens.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!